Born in 1989 in Greenwich, London, Chris Smalling’s route to professional football was far from
conventional, and similarly, without it’s struggles. The loss of his father to cancer at a young age
contributed to severe financial strain which his mother experienced throughout his childhood, raising
two young boys single handedly and relying on the Government’s benefit scheme to get them by from
one day to the next.
Moving to Chatham, Kent, accelerated Chris’ passion for sport and his dedication to professional
performance, enrolling in Judo at club level and training intently to a level which saw consecutive
National Championship wins by the age of 16, and a runner-up accolade in International
Chris’ footballing story began with Kent Under 11’s, and then Millwall FC. As a London-based club,
Chris’ climb up the ranks was halted by intense pressure surrounding family financial contribution to
travel. As a result of this financial strain, Chris regularly missed training and this eventually concluded
in him departing the club aged 16, and thus excluded from the Kent Under 16’s squad.
Shifting focus to his career outside of football, Chris comfortably passed his GCSE’s and enrolled in
Sixth Form College where he studied Business, Economics and Media. He was accepted on to a
Financial Economics BA Hons course at Loughborough and Leicester Universities.
At the age of 18, whilst playing for Maidstone FC, Chris was selected to play for the England School
Boys which proved a positive outlet from studying and an effective distraction from the difficulties
faced at home. It was with England School Boys that Chris first experienced playing at Wembley. A
matter of weeks prior to Chris starting at University he was approached by scouts from Fulham and
Middlesbrough who both offered him trials at their respective clubs. With nothing to lose and his
university place intact, Chris accepted the trial week offers, impressing Gareth Southgate
(Middlesbrough) and Roy Hodgson (Fulham) enough to be offered his first professional contract.
Opting for a move to Craven Cottage, Chris spent his first year at the club with the Reserves squad,
during which he was made Captain. The following season brought consistent impressive
performances for the first team, and by January Chris had offers on the table from Arsenal FC and
Manchester United. In his first season at Old Trafford Chris had made 30+ first team appearances for
a Premier League title-winning squad and had experienced a Champions League Final.
Since early 2018, Chris has proved a pioneer for plant-based diets in English professional sport, citing
in-humane practice of meat production and animal welfare as the reasoning behind making the
transition. He has utilised his platforms and engaged audience to enhance visibility of environmental
concerns and has been vocal on the necessity of sustainable and humane practice. Chris has also
credited the lifestyle change for enhanced physicality and recovery (having previously suffered badly
Possessing a deep social conscience, Chris supports a number of charitable initiatives which include,
but are not limited to, PETA, Stand Up to Cancer, Barnabus Homeless Shelter and Football Beyond
On August 30th 2019, Chris joined Serie A club AS Roma on loan for the 2019-20 season